Angela Natividad's Live & Uncensored!

29 April 2008

Twitter Tools that in Theory Could Be Useful

A lot of these are the information-sifting equivalent of a glass unicorn collection: novelty crap that imbues you with a false sense of productivity. Fun if you're into that sorta thing.

Which, at present, I am.

I'll update this list as I discover more Oohs and Aahs. In the meantime:
  • Twhirl. (Download.) Ports tweets into a user-friendly chat box. You will never use AIM again. Sift replies, file goodies and retweet at leisure. Discovered via @stevehall.
  • TweetStats. Pop in a username and get colourful graphs on month-to-month Twitter use, aggregate daily and hourly tweets, people replied to most, interfaces preferred. There's gotta be a practical application for this. Indeed there is: identifying bots. Discovered via @griner.
  • tweet clouds. Creates a tag cloud of words you tweet most. Via @WillWheeler.
  • TwitterSnooze. Following somebody who's live-tweeting a really lame ad conference? Snooze that bastard. Customize length of days. Via @scobleizer, who invited people to snooze him at will. (There's a guy who's comfortable with his public persona.)
  • twitterverse. Sorta like Google Zeitgeist. Tells you what people are tweeting about today. Via @mikedelgado.
  • twitterlocal. Lets you filter tweets by geographic location.
  • twistori. The reason I decided to compile this list. Zeroes in on when people tweet love, hate, think, believe, feel, and wish. Click on one for real-time emo-vision. Sometimes it's mundane ("i hate the dentist") or provocative ("i hate not knowing"); other times just random ("i love burnt cheese." Me too, incidentally). Via @florianseroussi.
  • Intwition. Tracks what links are, were, or will be popular.

Charysma on Tomagotchis

"Wanna see my Tomagotchi? ...You know what a 'Tomagotchi' is, right?"

"I had a Nano Baby when I was in, like, high school or something. It died and I gave up on motherhood."

"Mine don't die. I'm on Generation 3."

"What do you mean, 'Generation 3'?"

"You raise one, then it grows up and moves away, then you raise its baby, then it grows up and moves away, then you raise the next one. And sometimes the mom and grandma come over."

"How do you know which is which?"

"You can tell who the grown-ups are. If you don't visit them enough, they start drinking."

28 April 2008

Generation Gap


My mom called sounding all frenetic and urgent last night. "What's that site where Google lets you start your own homepage?" she asked.
Back story: Months ago, Mom told me she almost paid some snake oil hack $250 for offering to build her a "Google homepage." I was like, "Dude. You can do that FOR FREE."
Back to the present. I pretended to wrack my brain, and then I was all, "Oh yeah. Pages.google.com."

"It's not on Google?" she demanded, suspicious-like.

"It is," I said. "[something].google.com is the same as google.com/[something]. Just, you know, reversed."

Her breathing suggested she was unconvinced. I could hear her typing it into a browser to check if I was lying. Then she went, "Okay -- thanks." And hung up.

This morning in a CC'ed email I discovered my 10-year-old sister Charysma used Googlepages to start a website for her artwork. So far though, it just looks like free advertising for DARE. 

Nonetheless, it is one more addition to her growing self-promotional online empire.

You know, I thought I had at least six more years before I'd start feeling totally eclipsed by Generation Next. Homegirl's showcasing her creative life, playing with online video and learning PhotoShop two years younger than the age I was when I first discovered chat rooms, punters and filesharing.

Ugh. Feeling retro. It burns.

Here We are Now, Entertain Us

One Show wants a little interactive spice in its life.

To help out, Adrants is sending me to the Festival next week. We'll be doing ceremony coverage and afterparty stuff. I am a goo pile of happy.

If you happen to be in Manhattan, we can arrange meet-ups via Twitter. Follow me on Twitter anyway for real-time news and whatnot.

Hope my ad:tech SF cough goes away in time. =\

26 April 2008

Oh No, Oh No, We Pulled the Finger



So Leo Burnett did this objectively lame thing where it released an in-house announcement for its new company dress code. Nothing fancy, typical cog gear: collared shirts and cotton trousers for men, capris or long shorts made of dress pant material for women. Woo-flippin'-hoo.

It's a culture-of-the-industry type of story, so of course the ad bloggers covered it and in some cases tried generating debate over whether agency life merits a dress code. (An office is an office is an office, right?) 

Turns out the story was a (really, really late) April Fools. That's bureaucracy for you!

So here comes AdAge, which is, like, desperate to be in on some kind of Cool Kids inside-track, with this "Leo Burnett Totally PWNS Bloggers" story. It actually goes out of its way to quote the flyer's sauciest bits ("even you creatives!" "Dress for success!" "COTTON TROUSERS AND DRESS SHOES!"*) and then highlights a few blogs that "bought it hook, line and sinker, responding alternately with rage, consternation and even pensiveness."

Yeah, guys. LB really got us, thar. I don't know why anyone would legitimately think an agency might consider putting its beloved creatives in khaks. It's not like anybody's ever released a truly inane in-house memo and expected us all to take it seriously. Or anything.


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* Emphasis mine.

25 April 2008

There's Melanin in My Drinking Water!

Here's a weird statement I've heard more than once:

"Wow. It must be awesome to have a tan all year 'round."

And if the person is just. Lame. Enough, she might even follow that question up with "How do you do that?"

That's the equivalent of me walking up to you and going, "Whoooa. It must be awesome to have Barbie hair. Did they put it in before or after attaching your head to your neck?"

24 April 2008

It's a Beat-Maker's Fantasy Toy...

Beat synthesizer for iPhone and iPod Touch:



Makes the notion of the one-man band seem less ... well, sad.

Wait for the piano sequence at 2:10. That's my favourite part. Brought to my attention by We Make it Good, which I discovered through Roger Darnell.

23 April 2008

Business Cards, Meet Dust Bunnies. Expect to Be Friends for Awhile.

After weeks mulling it over, I wrote a how-to on using Twitter to build brand integrity. It was published on MarketingVOX today.

I was pretty skeptical of Twitter at first; to be frank, I thought it was a load of time-wasting crap. Well, it definitely contributes to my procrastination factor, but it also did something really neat: it reconciled relationships to networking. (I've complained about the contrived feel of classical networking in the past.)

For real-time relationship development, and just generally getting people to give a crap about what you have to say, few things beat Twitter. Not social networking, not blogging. (Although they help.) I actually feel like I have a social life waiting for me every time I approach the monitor.

Which in retrospect is really kind of lame.

But there are offline elements to this as well. At ad:tech SF last week, I met Twitter friends in person and made new ones, too. That, coupled with whomever added me on Facebook, means I don't even feel the inclination to dig through the fresh stack of business cards I came home with. Everybody I want to know, I'm in contact with at any given moment.

Much nicer than the unwanted cold call and awkward martini meeting that follows (if you're lucky!):



While on this big evangelistic high, I considered preaching the merits of Twitter to my parents. Then I thought against it; my relatives are sort of religious. And then I wondered what Twitter could do for religion. 

Ooh. The plot takes a sinister turn.

22 April 2008

Q: Why Hit an ad:tech Party?

A: Backless chaps.

Imagine being at a softcore strip club, except you don't have to throw money at anybody and the stripper really, really wants to sell you on that awesome new video ad platform.

21 April 2008

Because Omnipotence Ain't Jack without an AK-47

And if you have a better argument, I'd damn well like to hear it.



Via College Humor by way of Damien Tromel.

17 April 2008

I'm Chilling Chilling Back Back in Cali Cali

I'm at ad:tech all week, trying to stay awake at the sessions and partying well in the evenings. Met the guy who "invented" Gevalia, courtesy of John Engler. He lavishes free drinks on the downtrodden and kisses on both cheeks. It's all very Benevolent King of the World.

Follow the goings on at the ad:tech Blog. This year is kind of exceptional because our writers include some seriously young, opinionated and media-savvy people. They scald everything they touch -- and the victims deserve it, I'd say.

12 April 2008

Creating Aliases on Gmail

Benj found out about a neat feature on Gmail. If you have an existing Gmail address, you can create aliases to pass on to other people.

Here's an example of what I'm going on about. Say your email is first.lastname@gmail.com.

Adding +[item] to the end of your email will create an alias that conveys information to first.lastname@gmail.com. For example, when you register on MySpace, you could make your email first.lastname+myspace@gmail.com.

All emails to first.lastname+myspace@gmail.com will go to first.lastname@gmail.com.

Another neat Gmail feature is you can move the period in your email address. I could give someone firstlast.name@gmail.com, or f.irstlastname@gmail.com. It all goes to the same inbox: first.lastname@gmail.com.

According to the Gmail blog, these features make it simple to set up a filter for different types of emails you receive.

Benj uses aliases (first.lastname+vendor@gmail.com) on his email, and it's a good way of finding out who sells your data. Even companies who claim they're not "selling" your information may be giving it away.

People who've (apparently) redistributed his: Microsoft, Google, even grad schools.

When I worked for a company that dealt with schools and districts regularly, I observed the person typically in charge of a huge list of emails is generally a friendly admin who's liberal about passing that info to anybody who claims to have a legit use for it. Most of the time, people do. The yearbook photographer needs to mail promotions and samples to the kids, or the local community college might want to advocate a cheaper alternative to four-year uni. But somewhere down the line, past that first admin, somebody ends up turning a nickel on those names.

And names are cheap. I've bought thousands of household contact addresses for families with kids under 18, in select states, at less than $80 at a time. I'm not saying this to be creepy; I'm saying it because people should be aware that information is fluid. You can try to block the flow, but you really can't stop it. The most ethical institutions always have a naive secretary, an intern or an apathetic third-party vendor who's ready to pass data on. The problem worsens the bigger the institution gets, simply because it's harder to control what people do.

At the very least, this feature -- which is not unique to Gmail, most "serious" email services have it* -- helps make you more aware of what happens to your data after it's left your fingertips.

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*Benj insisted I add this because he's not a Gmail user. He found the alias feature for me because, like a lot of pseudo-techies out there, I use Gmail to make my life easier.

Yesterday I was standing over his shoulder and going "OMG, that's so neat how you do that thing with your emails," and then I spend the rest of the day trawling his junk mail folder in shock and awe over the utter TRANSPARENCY of who's-selling-what. And this morning he was totally like, "Here, look what I found, you can do it too."

08 April 2008

On Living with a Geek

"Ang, come here. Come listen to my mouse."

I approach the screen. Benj pushes a button. I hear a high-pitched Beep.

"What's that?"

"It's my mouse. Isn't it amazing?" Beep.

"Why would you want it to do that?"

"Don't you remember the modem days?" Beep. Beep. Beep.

"...Yeah." I've got a look on my face that tells him I'm not making the connection.

Benj sighs laboriously. "What was a modem?"

"A modem was a little box that sat by my computer and brought me internet."

"Right. And how did it work?"

"You plugged it into the phone line, and pushed the 'connect' button on AOL, and then you'd hear all kinds of swishy noises."

"Right!" He throws his hands up in the air and smiles triumphantly.

"I still don't get it."

"THIS--" Beep "--is ONE of the sounds from that sequence!"

07 April 2008

Look How Cute.


Sponsored TV advertising, circa '64. From "Come Wander with Me," an episode of The Twilight Zone that I'm kind of obsessed with right now.

03 April 2008

Converse Shoots for Authenticity, Scores in Artifice

Converse, the quintessential anti-sports-shoe sneaker brand, recently tapped "anti-ad agency" Anomaly for some anti-advertising advertising. In one spot, the following words appear (à la Star Wars) against the backdrop of a just-crowned beauty queen:

"Why are we sitting and watching I Wanna Be the Galaxy's Best Supernova Diva Star? Dutifully phoning in our votes for the next big thing while we wait on our couches to die." It preaches on about democracy, thinking for yourself, seizing the day before you're dead, etc. See the other spot here.

Copyranter's not impressed.

The problem with this smarmy anti-ad stuff is it assumes advertising is inauthentic by definition. That's not true. Like a person, a brand has a dynamic personality with central values that consumers expect it to always reflect, no matter how often it changes its hair.

When a brand is fully confident in who it is, and that vibe resonates in the advertising, you've got what I'd call a truly authentic campaign. A confident brand doesn't have to pander for inclusion in a clique; it sets the bar, and the cool kids come running. Think Apple, Starbucks in the '90s and Ivy League sweaters.

Converse doesn't have to trash pop culture to look authentic. It has a long, interesting history and a product that resonates with lots of different people. Recent campaigns (1, 2) suggest Converse knows that. All it needs to do is stick with it and let the message evolve naturally.

Weigh in on Converse's anti-marketing ad campaign at this poll by Copyranter.

Jay-Z Goes Exclusive ... with a Promoting Crew?



Jay-Z's leaving Def Jam for a Live Nation contract that covers his music and related ventures for the next 10 years. The perks:

  • $25 million up front

  • $10 million advance per album for a minimum of three
  • $25 million for tours

  • $20 million for publishing, licensing and other rights


"I've turned into the Rolling Stones of hip-hop," he quipped.

The tide it is a-turning. For record labels, anyway. Jay-Z's the same old Jay-Z -- ahead of the curve. Which you can afford to be when you're among the few rappers not convinced that "staying real" means never quite cashing in.

'Come Wander with Me'





The song's origin.

Its reinterpretation.

Its rebirth in advertising.

Long way from home.

02 April 2008

On Mending the Marketing and Tech Divide

Here's an article for marketers about learning how to relate to your tech team.

The chief operating officer of Watershed Publishing -- a big tech geek -- wrote the first draft. It was hilarious; I read it and thought, "This is a laundry list of things he hates about me!"

But the dude makes some solid points. I honestly think the fractured marketer/dev/designer relationship in most office settings is a topic that needs addressing, especially as sophisticated interactive technology has become a de facto expectation of brand websites and online campaigns.

There's a universe of (actively-maintained) difference in the spheres where marketing and tech work; from experience, it's hard finding people willing to breach the divide.

This is counterproductive hubris crap. When working with interactive media, marketers must make an effort to get geeky (read: more tech-savvy). This will make them better marketers. On the other hand, engineers should also feel compelled to nurture their own creativity. This makes them more competitive assets.

One day at DriversEd.com, after getting the usual pushback from the senior engineer, I spat out, "Why don't you ATTEND OUR MEETINGS so you can tell us what can't be done before we've laid out a game plan!"

He smiled, shuffled a deck of cards between his hands and answered, "Because I like the way it feels to say no after your hopes have been ignited."

Funny guy.

Marketers, devs and designers: we live in the same world now. Deal with it.

John Battelle Weighs In on Vertical Ad Networks

The industry is really good at direct response advertising online. The problem with vertical ad networks is that until you have engagement, integration, and proof of that consumer awareness, you are just going to keep devolving down to direct response pricing, which is sub $5 cost per thousand (CPM) for an ad.

We want it at the kinds of CPMs that supported the magazine and the cable industry, which is above $20, $30, $40, $50 cost per thousand. Advertisers will pay that once they feel like they're getting that value for it.


FYI: John Battelle co-founded Wired and wrote The Search, a pretty good book about Google, the history of search and the birth of the sponsored search industry.

He's also the founder of Federated Media, a gigantor online ad network composed of blogs like Dooce, Boing Boing and Ars Technica.

More Battelle on ad networks.

01 April 2008

Sponsor-Inspired Self-Improvement

The other day I tried a Bior√© pore strip sampler out of Real Simple magazine. Then I spent half an hour comparing the top and bottom halves of my nose.

I am now about 60 percent convinced I need pore strips to rein in my moon-sized schnozz craters. Preferably while imbuing them with the fresh scent of Mandarin blossoms.

On Nixing 'We'

Well THAT was unnecessary. What's wrong with the royal "We", particularly on a multiuser site with an opinionated but like-minded group of people controlling it?
Nothing, in our opinion. We use it all the time. It's neither deceptive nor presumptuous -- rather, in your case, it's entirely accurate. We regret your decision and mourn our loss...
Steve and I decided to stop using the royal "We!" on Adrants. That quotation is one of the comments we received following the announcement.

I guess I should explain this whole "we" thing. When a one-man news publication wants to  sound like he's got untold legions of corporate suits behind him, he uses statements like "we decided" and "we think" instead of the singular.

"We" has serious mojo. It's my impression "we" can do any or all of these things:
  • Put gallons of weight behind otherwise-worthless subjective claims
  • Minimize the necessity of having to do research, because one* assumes a committee of people is better informed than just a single dude
  • Make your organization seem bigger than it is
  • Give articles a uniform tone. (When multiple writers on one website use "we," it lends a sense of harmony)
It might just be my imagination, but I think nixing "we" will force me to be more accountable for what I say under my own name. That'll be a challenge, but a useful one.

On the other hand, I worry that emphasizing individual personalities will exchange a once-unified choir (a "voice of the brand," if you will) for a stage of divas -- the sensation that multiple people are vying for the attention of one reader. 

Which is why I posted that comment at the top. I'm nervous about letting go of this security blanket.

Well, nothing for it but to try.

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*Also a great cloaker.